Author's Note: "When the Beginning Becomes the End"

There once was a girl named Ellie101 who started writing fanfics. She fell in love with a fandom and spent many hours and countless nights reading, writing and dreaming of Labyrinth fanfics. She also jumped the Fanfic Author Ship long ago and makes spastic and unconventional reappearances whenever the bug gets in a good bite.

I'm going to take responsibility for leaving this story sitting here like an abandoned puppy for all of these years, because whenever I do look here or on digitalquill and see it sitting there, all unfinished and mangy, I wonder why I couldn't at least finish the damn thing before I stopped writing fanfic.

So here it is. An ending. Probably not the ending that you expect. Certainly not the ending I intended to write so many moons ago. The sad truth is that I couldn't even tell you definitively what I had planned for this story anymore. After countless computer crashes and then a (literal) tornado that made off with any hard-copies of notes I had for this story, I'm left flying blind.

Not to mention the fact that I'm older now and this story has been left gathering dust for far too long. So I'm re-imagining this tale. I hope that it at least allows for a more fitting conclusion for all (well, however many there may still be out there) of the fans that cared enough to write a review or beg for just one more chapter.

I'm literally going to regurgitate some stuff, (aka I updated the chapters and one of them is going buh-bye possibly indefinitely) so bear with me—but when I'm done this story will finally be laid to rest.

This is for all of the people that just wouldn't give up on Cradle: I can only hope that it's been worth the wait.

"Rock-a-bye Baby"

Sarah's baby gurgled in her tiny crib. Her mother was tossing and turning in bed, Sarah dreamed of endless darkness and vicious soldiers taking her husband captive. Sarah moaned, as in dream, blood dripped down Ryan's agonized face as a shadowed figure murdered him. A small cry woke her.

Baby Jessie began to cry and in the fashion of mothers everywhere, Sarah rose rapidly from sweaty sheets to reassure her.

Her voice sliced smoothly through the velvet shadow. "Hush, Sweetie. Hush, my darling... Mommy's here."

Baby Jessie heard the comfort in Sarah's words, felt the envelope of love in her mother's arms, and allowed herself to be rocked back to sleep and settled in her cradle.

Sarah brushed the wispy brown hairs out of Jessie's eyes and watched her child slumber. Jessie's amber eyes never opened, nor did her tiny form move—apart from the gentle rhythmic rise and fall of her chest.

Unable to return to sleep, Sarah sat in the worn rocking chair that had been her great-grandmother's and looked out of the window and stared at nothing at all. Thoughts tumbled in and out of her mind and worry for Ryan seemed so strong and terrifyingly real that she was almost afraid that she would choke on it. He was beyond her now. She had no way of knowing whether he was even alive.

Fear rose in floods until her dull green eyes brightened with the sheen of unwept tears. Tears for her husband, and herself, but most of all, her darling Jessie. It tore through her, out of her, until she was gasping for breath and wrapping her arms around herself so tightly that her hands turned white. But her agony was silent. Jessie would never wake to the sound of her mother's pain. Of that, Sarah was certain.

Hours passed. Until, finally, sleep stole Sarah away and the man in black appeared beside her. His eyes were cruel. His love, even more so. For he did love, though he often tried to hate her for it. Yes, his little Sarah had grown up, he thought bitterly. Grown and in love with another. He leaned down and observed her: his savior, his defeat. Still beautiful, not even exhaustion would steal that from her. Her eyelids may have been ringed in puffy gray, but he knew her eyes were the same. A green to tempt the finest of emeralds, and a light that drew his darkness. For what was he but darkness? For ten years he had watched her succumb to love. A love that equaled and surpassed any twisted emotion that he could possibly offer her.

So he had sat in silence, damning her for being happy, damning her for living without him when he could not breathe without her. He had thought that her suffering would make it easier, but he was wrong. It was far worse to watch her this way. To watch her light dampen and her spirit fade. She held on now, he knew, for the child. And for the hope she held for her husband's safe return, hope that he knew would soon die.

He brushed a lock of silken hair off of Sarah's sleeping face and walked to the cradle. In it lay Sarah's baby. In it lay innocence. His smile was icy and brittle as he mockingly rocked the little cradle with his fingertips. "You will be lovely, my dear. You, with your mother's face and your father's eyes. You will be her saving grace."

His eyes burned bright as he continued, "And you will be her downfall."

Smiling his broken smile, Jareth picked up the silent child and swung her around. "For that, I could almost love you."

Baby Jessie stared into the chilling darkness of his face and felt a prick, pain blossomed and she opened her mouth to cry but instead fell instantly into a well of enchanted sleep.

Jareth whispered the words into her blood-pricked finger and delighted in the magic that drained into the sleeping child. She was his now. And soon, soon her mother would be too.

He settled Jessie back into the cradle with practiced ease and frowned. With her eyes closed, with the maddening amber tucked away, she was almost... precious.

But his heart was filled with Sarah, and not even that tiny piece of her could make room in it. He walked back to Sarah while the rising sun drenched them both in red.

Her husband's blood on him, and now her daughter's. Both would get him what he wanted. What he needed.

He wanted Sarah.

He touched her once, his Sarah, just as she was waking— felt her smooth skin before he vanished into air. But his dark purpose lingered in the dying darkness: He would have her.

She would be his.